September 12, 2011

GOLF | With Roster Set, Squad Ready for Bonnies

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The golf team begins its 2011-12 campaign this weekend in Olean, N.Y., at the annual Leo Keenan Invitational. The tournament, hosted at St. Bonaventure, will take place on Sunday and Monday, and will serve as the start of what Cornell hopes will be a new-look season. The Red prepares for this invitational with the goal of finishing with lower overall scores than last year.

“We have always started with St. Bonaventure,” said senior John Dean. “It is one of the weaker fields we see, but it is a good warm up going into our invitational.”

As has been the trend over the past few years, the St. Bonaventure Invite is indeed the predecessor to the sole tournament the Red hosts each season, and sets a good stage for the start of play for the season. Last year, Cornell placed fourth of 12 teams in Olean, marking the best finish the team saw all season — both ranking-wise and in terms of combined points over two rounds of the tournament (600).

The Bonnies took first at the invitational in 2010, with a team total of 581. The hosting school also sported the individual title winner, Brian McKenna, who managed a one under par 139. McKenna returns to the course this year as a junior, and is expected to put up a strong performance this weekend.

Nonetheless, the Red still feels it can to top that score this year.

“The team is very focused, putting in the work necessary to come home with a win Monday,” Dean said.

As is the case with any new season, the golf team is in the midst of transforming into a single unit. The group just finished its early season tryouts, and now has its roster set for the season.

“We have a roster of 10 guys, plus a developmental squad of four,” said senior co-captain Alex Lavin. “Considering only five starters play each event, we have a deep roster. It should be good competition amongst each other for starting spots as the season continues.”

So far, the new group is meshing well and is sporting a high team energy and camaraderie.

“Everyone is excited for tournaments to get underway,” Lavin said. “The final roster is now set, and the past few weeks of practice has given us a lot of time to get to know each other — we have a great dynamic going on.”

Both Lavin and Dean not only emphasized the importance of coming out with a win from this event for the team as a whole, but also expressed high expectations from individuals on the Red.

“The Bonaventure event is usually treated as a tune up, and we expect a top finish. Sophomore Carl Schimenti has been hot lately and we’re expecting him to put up some good numbers,” Lavin said.

Dean agreed, describing Schimenti’s play as the “best golf” he has seen through his Cornell golf career.

As they head into the tournament, the older players are especially excited for another attempt at St. Bonaventure.

“The returning guys are certainly looking to improve over last year’s performances,” Lavin said. “A bunch of us had injuries at one point or another, and I missed the spring season after hip surgery. As co-captains and four-year players, Alex Simson and I are looking to be strong role models for the new guys coming in because there’s certainly a learning curve to overcome.”

Acting as the official team leaders, Simson and Lavin have been working closely with head coach Matt Baughan to ensure the Red is in top form for the tournament. Their efforts, along with the hard work of all the team members throughout practice so far, will be put to the test this weekend.

“We have full confidence going into the tournament,” Dean said. “Anything but a first place finish would be disappointing.”

Original Author: Reena Gilani